VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People who judge and criticize others are hypocrites and cowards who are unable to face their own defects, Pope Francis said.

Gossip, too, is “criminal” as it destroys, rather than exalts the image of God present in others, he said in his early morning homily Sept. 13 at his residence of Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“Those who live judging their neighbors, speaking badly of them, are hypocrites because they don’t have the strength, the courage to look at their own defects,” he said.

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own,” he said, referring to the day’s Gospel reading according to St. Luke.


Every time “we judge our brothers and sisters in our heart, and worse, when we talk about it with others, we are killer Christians,” imitating Cain who committed “the first homicide in history.”

Gossip, too, has “this dimension of criminality” because there is no such thing as “innocent gossip,” he said. “If one of us gossips, certainly he is a persecutor, someone violent.”

St. James the Apostle said the tongue is for praising God, “but when we use our tongue to speak badly of our brother or sister, we use it to kill God,” he said, killing “the image of God in our brother.”

Instead, people need to pray and do penance for others and, he said, “if it’s necessary, speak to the person who can solve the problem. Don’t tell everybody about it.”

People need “a gesture of conversion,” he said, because just as St. Paul was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man” he was “mercifully treated.”

The pope asked people to pray for “the grace of conversion from the criminality of gossip to love, humility, meekness, gentleness and the magnanimity of love toward the other.”